President's Message

By Jerry M. Fay, P.E.
APWA President

Cooperation is the key

Job shadowing a rewarding experience
Hopefully, many of you took the opportunity to participate in Ground Hog Shadow Day. Because of schedule conflicts, I had my student shadow me on February 7, 2000. I have to admit I approached the day with mixed feelings about having someone following me around all day. However, at the end of the day I looked back on a very rewarding and challenging experience.

Having someone watching me all day and asking questions caused me to think more about what I am doing and why I am doing it, two questions we should be continually asking ourselves. Towards the end of the day, my student pulled out a list of questions and we spent the last half-hour in a dialogue about public service. If my student is any indication of the next generation of public servants, I will retire with confidence.

Public and private sector cooperation essential to successful public works services
The April edition of the Reporter as usual provides our Corporate Member Directory. Not only is this edition an excellent resource, it also recognizes the value of our corporate members. We are fortunate to have such a large and diverse group of private sector members to provide us with products and services. Be sure to keep this directory as a handy reference for consultants, equipment vendors, and material suppliers.

Public and private sector cooperation in the provision of public works services has always been important. But now, as never before, public/private partnerships are essential to meeting the expanding and changing needs of the public works profession. We are faced with deteriorating infrastructure, limited resources, and increasing expectations from the public. If we are to successfully meet the challenges before us, we will need to effectively use the best delivery system available, whether it is the public sector, the private sector, or a combination.

Having spent a third of my career in private business, I have developed an understanding and respect for the work of the private sector. But equally important, I have developed an appreciation for the respective roles of the public and private sectors and how they differ. Each sector brings a unique set of skills and experiences to the public works field that, if understood and appropriately applied, can make the public/private partnership a success.

We in the public sector need to understand the business aspects of the private sector, and the private sector needs to understand the unique circumstances of work in the public sector. I believe that we could accomplish much more if the public sector members had private sector experience and the private sector had public sector experience. Regardless, we need to recognize and appreciate our respective roles in providing public service.

In closing, I would like to urge all the members of APWA to think of the public and private sectors as the public works community. Both groups are essential to the efficient and effective provision of public works services to the public.